New Times publishers win $3.7 million abuse of power lawsuit
December 24, 2013
Last week’s settlements bring to at least $17 million the final taxpayer cost of lawsuits relating to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas’ politically-motivated legal attacks.
All of the settlements are related to the sheriff and county attorney’s bungled government-corruption investigation into judges, county supervisors and administrators between 2008 and 2010. Four former judges, three county supervisors, three county employees and one business man also won lawsuits against the county.
In 2007, while ostensibly in the midst of secret grand jury proceedings, a special prosecutor appointed by Thomas filed a subpoena against the newspaper, asking the publishers to reveal the internet identities of anyone who read the paper online, including information about what other sites they had visited before and after reading the New Times.
Lacey and Larkin published a story about the subpoena on October 18, 2007. That evening, sheriff’s deputies came to their houses, handcuffed them, put them in dark SUV’s with tinted windows plates and drove them to jail.
Following public outrage, Thomas dropped the charges five days later.